In different parts of the UK women seem to have been debarred from working as teachers once they married, in some parts they could continue. Wherever they worked they were paid less than men for the same degree of teaching. In fact, equality was delayed, and one commentator condemned the machinations consequent on it.
On April 14th 1944 George Orwell used the phrase ‘the most shocking thing I ha(ve) ever seen’ when discussing the Churchill government’s abuse of parliamentary process as it denied equal pay to women teachers.
Reading his ‘As I Please’ article (14 April 1944) without knowing its context, Orwell appears to be meditating on sport. Only by understanding the events that provoked him can we see the extremity of the situation. That he had to disguise his objection as a sporting metaphor reveals the pressures that journalists such as him experienced.
Professor Peter Davison discusses this outrageous event on the Orwell Society website, explaining Orwell’s full meaning. We have added hyperlinks to Hansard from the time, for even greater depth.